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Woodstock streetscape plans continue

WOODSTOCK – The ongoing downtown streetscape project will step outside the Square to try to draw people in.

Officials have commissioned a design group to plan what they're calling "gateways" to the city. It's an attempt to draw attention to signs that notify motorists they've entered the city while bringing them toward the prized downtown district.

"It's a way to extend [streetscape] out to the major arteries and make it all cohesive," said Cort Carlson, Woodstock's community and economic development director. "And hopefully draw some people off the main roads and into the Square."

The city's plan to spruce up the downtown area was adopted in 2007. Since then, improvements on the Square have included changes to light fixtures, sidewalks, landscaping and crosswalks.

Design also has started on a new electronic marquee for the Woodstock Opera House.

The city has hired Hitchcock Design Group – it's the primary design team on the streetscape project – to do design work for the marquee and gateways at a total cost of $15,000.

Opera House Director John Scharres said officials have kicked around the idea of a marquee for decades. The design will have to fit with the historic feel of the opera house and Square, he said.

"It's going to be rather challenging to find the right thing to fit into downtown here," he said.

Even when the design is finalized, it could be awhile before the plan comes to fruition. Officials met with the design firm for the first time Thursday, but the city didn't budget for construction for either project in the 2013-14 budget, Carlson said.

"It's an ongoing quest," he said. "The streetscape is a plan and a jumping-off point, but I don't think you're ever really done."

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